Skincare 101 – Sunscreen and SPF

sunscreen, spf, why do you need sunscreen, what is spf
(Photo by Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

So here we are, in the thick of Summer. The Fourth of July holiday has come and gone. However, one thing remains constant over the Summer (and really all year long) for me and that is sunscreen. When I worked in the Beauty Industry, the number one question I always got was “What is the best anti-aging product?” to which I always responded “Sunscreen”. Yeah, I know, not very sexy is it? You would think that I would recommend some high end moisturizer all the way from Paris. Nope, the number one way you can prevent aging and damage to your skin is by protecting it from the sun. 

Why You Need Sunscreen

Unprotected exposure to the sun’s rays can cause premature aging, sun spots and skin cancer.The Sun has two types of harmful rays that we need to be concerned with, UVA (UltraViolet A) and UVB (UltraViolet B). UVA rays are actually the ones that penetrate deep into the layer of the skin known as the dermis. This exposure causes the breakdown of collagen, premature aging, wrinkles and more. UVB rays are the ones that hit the topical layer of the skin and cause burning and redness. This continued burning of the skin is the cause of skin cancers.

Sunscreen is your best protection for preventing premature aging, sun spots, discoloration and skin cancer brought upon by the sun’s harmful rays. Let’s take a look at some key sunscreen points to keep in mind when choosing the right one for you.

sunscreen, spf, why do you need sunscreen, what is spf

What is SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, this is the amount of the time that the product will give you protection. Let’s say that you burn in the sun within 20 minutes. So a sunscreen with an SPF 15 will protect you 15 times longer than that, or up to 5 hours. I highly recommend that on a normal day you use 15-30 SPF and when you are out for longer periods and in more direct sunlight that you use an SPF of 30-50. Most dermatologists and doctors state than anything over 50 is not really any more beneficial.

Also, keep in mind that layering sunscreens does not give you more protection. So layering an SPF 40 product over an SPF 30 product does not give you an SPF of 70. The higher SPF wins, meaning in this scenario you have an SPF 40 coverage.

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Broad Spectrum sunscreens protect you from both UVA and UVB rays, so make sure your sunscreen is broad spectrum.


There are really two main types of sunscreens. Physical blockers, contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, reflect sunlight and help keep it from being absorbed into the skin. Chemical blockers, contain oxybenzone and avobenzone, absorb the damaging rays. Now that I am on my clean beauty journey, I prefer Physical blockers as the chemical ones are bad for both you and the environment.

A Few other tips:

  • Use sunscreen all year round, even on overcast days
  • Sunscreens take about 20 minutes to go into effect, so apply 20 minutes before leaving the house. Do not wait too long to apply and head out.
  • Look for waterproof or water resistant sunscreens when hitting the beach or the pool, but you will need to reapply every two hours. Even if not in water, it is beneficial to reapply every two hours. 
  • For your body use the amount that would fill a shot glass and for your face, use the amount of a teaspoon.

Watch the video below for more information on sunscreens. Let me know in the comments what your favorite sunscreen is. And stay tuned for an upcoming Beauty Battle, where I test a handful of sunscreens to see which one comes out on top.

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